ES: Loudon: Rogelio Lopez race notes

Rogelio Lopez An Accident Victim At NHMS Loudon, N.H. (June 27, 2008) - Rogelio Lopez was expecting a stellar race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday. Driving the No. 03 TELMEX/Lucas Oil Chevrolet in NASCAR Camping World East Series, ...

Rogelio Lopez An Accident Victim At NHMS

Loudon, N.H. (June 27, 2008) - Rogelio Lopez was expecting a stellar race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday. Driving the No. 03 TELMEX/Lucas Oil Chevrolet in NASCAR Camping World East Series, Lopez posted the second-fastest time in practice and, after starting ninth, led five laps and ran in the top-five for most of the race's first half. But with just a handful of laps to go in the race, an accident occurred in front of the Aguascalientes, Mexico driver and he was pushed into it, causing him to have to retire from the event with a 32nd place finish.

Driving the same car that earned the pole position and ran third at this track last fall, Lopez did not get a chance to get on the track at all on Thursday as rain cancelled practice and qualifying. He was given the ninth starting position due to his points standing, though after posting the second-fastest lap in Friday morning's practice, it was evident that he had a car that was capable of a better starting spot if qualifying were held.

Pit strategy played a large role in the running of the Heluva Good! 125. Lopez stayed on the track while most of the rest of the field pitted, and he took over the race lead on lap 36. He held that lead for five laps, then ran second until just past halfway when another caution came out and he made his own pit stop. He restarted well back in the field.

"We had good strategy, but it was hard coming from the back to the front," he explained. "We had fresher tires than the guys at the front, and we would have been real good if we could have been there at the end."

By the time the race was reaching its closing stages, Lopez had climbed back into the top ten and was threatening to continue improving. But after a lap 101 restart, cars up front started roughing each other up and two spun in front of Lopez.

"I don't know what happened," he said. "Everybody checked up in the front and I had nowhere to go. Somebody hit me from behind and that broke something either in the transmission or the rear end. I put it in gear but the car wouldn't move."

Lopez was pushed to pit road where the crew tried to assess the damage, but the problem couldn't be fixed before the end of the race and Lopez was forced to retire from the event in 32nd place.

"The whole Dave Davis Motorsports team worked really hard, and it paid off because this was the nicest car I've ever had to drive from the time we unloaded," Lopez said. "We were second fastest in practice this morning, and we led some laps today but I think we missed a little bit on our pit strategy. It just seems that every time we come here for the spring race we have some bad luck. Hopefully we'll come back in September and have a better race."

Lopez and the TELMEX/Lucas Oil team have a couple weeks to regroup before the next NASCAR Camping World East Series race, which is on Saturday night, July 12, at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway.

"We have some good tracks for me coming up," he said. "I liked Thompson last year so I'm looking forward to going back there, and I won at Nashville last summer. We need some good races to make up for this DNF, so we're not going to give up."

-credit: ajc

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Rogelio Lopez